Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen

Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen thumbnail

Odds are if you love fly fishing for warm water predators, you’ve caught a few glimpses of Pat Cohen’s (@rusuperfly) fly patterns. Pat is renowned for his deer hair work, fly tying tools, and original patterns. A New York native, Pat grew up fishing, but once he gave fly fishing a try, the rest was history. We sat down with Pat to chat about fly tying, developing fly tying products and his art-fly-tying. Check it out!

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into fly fishing.

Pat: I think it was in 2008 or so, and it was kind of a random event. I was out fishing with my dad and my brother, and my brother had this eagle claw fly-slash-spin combo rod, and I check it out and I decided I wanted to learn how to fly fish. And haphazardly put it together, walked out in the middle of the creek, started whipping the thing around frantically, and did not catch a fish. But, fell in love with the whole process. And it all started from that, really. Yeah, it was an accident.

And fly tying started in 2009, and it was really…well, that was an accident too. I was going through flies like crazy trying to learn how to catch smallmouth, and I decided that I needed to learn how to tie a couple for myself because where I’m at, there’s nothing as far as fly shops and stuff like that go. So, for me to replenish flies, it was an hour drive one way to go get flies or whatever. So I said, all right I’m going to learn how to tie a couple of these things. And at the time I was only using like bead head crystal flash wooly buggers. And so I tied tons of them, and then just accidentally stumbled upon bass bugs and fell in love with that, and it just kind of went from there.

Flylords: When did you first start tying with spun deer hair?

Pat: That was within a couple of months of tying flies in general. I kind of ran through the gamut. There was this little fly shop around here, it was a trout focused fly shop and I had gone in and I went and talked to them. I said, “Hey you know, I’m really interested in learning how to catch bass”, and they basically told me to leave, in not so many words.

So it wasn’t a good reception there, so I said, all right well that’s kind of rude. And then left and went … There’s another little shop, like I said, about an hour from here. It’s closed now unfortunately but, I’d gone in there and that’s where I started seeing all these bass bugs and all these various things. And bought a few and then started using them.

The first one was just a standard Dahlberg diver. And fell in love with the whole premise of catching bass on topwater. And I said, “Well geez there’s not a lot of selection.” I would see all the available lures and spin tackle gear, and then go back and looked at these fly selections, I said to myself, “Boy, there’s nothing here, why are all these crazy colors available in poppers and Hula Poppers and that kind of thing but, I can’t get anything like that in a fly.” So I started making them. 

The first time I tried to spin a bug, I had no idea what I was doing, or what the material was. I had some bucktails around, so I tried to spin bucktail, and I was getting angry. I went back to that shop that I bought the tail from, and I met this guy Tom. And I said, “Hey, Tom I want to learn how to make these things.”, and he’s like, “Well I don’t know how to make them but, I can tell you what material you need.” 

So I bought belly hair, went home and I was like, holy hell it flares, it does what it’s supposed to do. Yeah. And then I just kind of went bananas with it. 

Flylords: Was there an “A-ha!” moment you discovered or something that kind of accelerated the learning curve for you, where spinning deer hair is concerned?

Pat: Thread tension seemed to be the thing that was the most important, at first. It was like, “okay how do I make this hair stand up off the hook at 90 degrees,” because that’s the whole premise behind flaring deer hair. You want to get that thread in the middle, compress it down nice and tight and boom that hair stands up. So I guess, one of the first things that you try to figure out is, all right I’m putting a ton of tension on this, I’m getting it flared and then when I put a little bit extra, my thread breaks, now what. So using the right thread, and when I was told finally what I should be using, that really made a big difference. 

Flylords: And what was that thread?

Pat: GSP. At the time, I was told a million different things. I was told, hey use Kevlar, use this thread, that thread, use mono, use all these different things. And nothing really worked. I think I read an article or something. I have no idea exactly how but, I discovered GSP and started using GSP. And I was like, oh yeah this is where it’s at, this is the missing ingredient.

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the hair packing tool you developed.

Pat: Yeah. The Fugly Packer. The problem that I was having was, if wanted a super, super dense bug, I was bending out all of the little brassy packers and stuff like that. You can’t put enough pressure on that hair. You can get them dense with the other packers, but you can’t get them really dense. Some of these bugs, you can literally take and sand them with a piece of sandpaper when you’re done trimming them out.

So, that was kind of what I was going for. The denser you make the hair bug, the better it floats and the more durable it becomes because you’ve got all this super tight-packed glued hair that’s firmly secured to this hook.


Flylords: How do you get such intricate color layers and patterns in your deer hair flies? 

Pat: When you’re making all those patterns the technique is called stacking. Stacking is basically working from the bottom side of the hook shank to the top side of the hook shank. And what stacking allows you to do is control every bit of hair that goes on that fly. So we talk about it in terms of pencil thicknesses although, rarely do the clumps of hair that we use actually resemble a pencil thickness. I mean, if you’re really getting into this, you’re using a fair amount of hair but, as a reference point, pencil thickness.

So, if I have three pencil thicknesses is my first clump of hair on the bottom of the fly. Let’s say I want the belly to be orange. So I get my clump of hair, my three pencil thickness clump of hair to the bottom of the fly. Now, I’ve got this orange belly. Then, I want the top of the fly to be segmented. Let’s say I want chartreuse, kelly green, and olive with some black barring in between. So in theory, you want the amount of hair on the bottom of the fly, and the amount of hair on the top of the fly to be somewhat close to the same. If you’re going to go over, you want more hair on top than you do on the bottom but, you try to keep it somewhat close.

So for easy math, let’s just say we separate the three main colors, which is that chartreuse, kelly, and olive. So one pencil thickness of each of those. And then, you want those black bars. So let’s say we take two other little clumps of black, maybe it’s a quarter of a pencil in thickness, not even enough to measure against the bottom clumps of hair. So you put your chartreuse down, and then you separate that in the middle, and then you put your kelly green right in the middle on top of that. Then you compress that and you put your little black bars in, and then you put your olive in the middle of that, and then you put another chunk of black on top of that. Meanwhile, you’re compressing the hair the whole time and adding more thread. You’re adding minimal wraps, two wraps per color. And then you’re pulling down real tight in between. 

And as you build that up, you’re creating these patterns. So on your last wrap, you put an extra wrap of thread through and then take your packer and you pack all that back. Then you advance your thread and do it all over again until you run out of hook space. But, basically, what you’re doing, as long as you’re not migrating your thread within those stacks of hair, is you’re just creating a pattern stack of multiple colors of hair. When you trim that out, you end up with all those bars and spots. That’s a simplified version of it because you can do all sorts of different things but, that’s the general gist of how to do that kind of a process. It does take some practice, don’t get me wrong, you can’t figure it out overnight. It took me a very long time to become somewhat competent at it.

Flylords: So tell us a little bit about the trimming process. The first cut you make with a razor always seems to be so oddly satisfying to watch. 

Pat: That first cut on the bottom, that’s your most important cut. That’s the telltale, did I pull my thread tight enough, close enough to that hook shank or is my first cut going to slice through that thread and 45 minutes of my life is going to fall on the floor. It happens either way. After a while, you start to figure out, all right okay, I got enough tension on this, I’m not going to worry about it. You trim carefully every bug that I trim, and I make thousands of bass bugs a year. I still trim every one of them very carefully.

Flylords: Where do you get the inspiration new patterns that you’re going to play with or develop?

Pat: So, whenever I’m developing a new fly, I’m trying to solve a problem on the water with that fly. The main reason that I tie flies is that I absolutely love to fish. So when I go out to fish and I’ve got my box loaded up with whatever flies I stuff in it for the day, I’m going out and I’m observing and I’m trying to figure out, okay these fish are doing A, B and C and I’ve got X Y and Z fly. Can I solve the problem? Can I catch fish? Can I fool them? And if I can’t, then I check a couple of things. I have a systematic approach to all fishing situations. 

So I start out with a fly that I like, and then move on from there, if that fly doesn’t catch fish, I look for obvious things. Are they feeding on crayfish, are they feeding on minnows, what size is the minnow, what’s the minnow doing. And then I choose a fly accordingly. And if I get my ass beat on the water that day, then I go home and I say, okay what was going on that I was not able to do with the selection of flies that I had. And then from there, I try to figure out, what is it that I think that I can do with a fly to entice more aggressive feeding behavior. Maybe that’s a color, maybe it’s size, maybe it’s an action. So then I come up with whatever it is I think is going to solve the problem, and then I go back out and hope that that same problem exists tomorrow. And test that fly for a while and see what happens, and then make changes and go from there. But it’s always related to something that I want the fly to do.

I get a lot of inspiration from the tackle world. Honestly, I’m obsessed with wooden lures. So all these swimbaits and glide baits, and jerk baits and all these cool things that are being made, hand-carved out of wood and stuff. I look at those things and I go, okay how do I make a fly do that or jigs and things like that, creature baits. That’s how that whole series of creature tails and all the things that I make came about. I wanted to be able to fish that stuff on the fly rod.

Flylords: Do you have a go-to pattern these days?

Pat: It depends on where I’m fishing, honestly. One of the flies that has always been good to me as a searching pattern is my … it’s called a Fat Head deceiver. It’s basically a big muddler that I fish on a sinking line, has always been a go-to fly for me. But, when I’m on these smaller streams, I do fish a lot of smaller waters for bass. My Jiggy Craw, is an absolute starter, go to because where I’m at, 70% of these smallmouth’s diets are made up of crayfish. Crayfish and then hellgrammites, so I use that a lot too, my Devil’s Drifter (above), which is a hellgrammite pattern. The Jiggy craw is definitely one, the Fat Head deceiver is definitely one. I like the Fat Heads on bigger waters although, I use them in the small streams too.


Flylords: How do you keep fly tying fun and challenging for yourself when you sit down just to tie for your own box or just to let the creative juices flow?

Pat: That’s a good question. So everybody’s got to do something. You got to do something for a living. So I look at fly tying, I look at it two different ways. So I still absolutely love tying flies and creating flies, and to me, it’s just fun. When I sit down, and I have an idea, I don’t think about the commercial aspect of most of the flies. I look at them and I’m trying to make what I want to go and fish with.

And if it’s successful after a season or whatever, and usually I send them around to a couple of buddies. And we all fish them, then talk about them and, get some feedback together. And I’ve got more failures in my box than I do successful flies because that’s just part of the process. 

I’m creating all these flies that I want to fish with, and tying flies for everybody else. It’s still exciting because I’m still excited to fish those flies. And if you look on my website, I only tie flies that I use. If people call me up and they’re like, hey man we need 16 dozen Adams, I will point them in the direction of somebody that can do that for them. 

I enjoy it, really. Part of that is getting those photographs back from people or getting the excited email like, “Hey man I just went on the trip of a lifetime and caught my biggest fish and blah, blah”… It makes it very satisfying and it keeps it very satisfying. 

Flylords: How does your approach differ when you’re tying an art fly?

Pat:  The art flies have no rules because they don’t need to perform in the water. So you can get a little crazy with those things. You can make whatever you want, really. If you don’t have to worry about it balancing or keeling or moving a certain way, so you can just have fun. A lot of the time when I’m … Like, the Punk Rocker, that was the first display style fly that I had ever made. And it was just about … really it was just about having some fun with deer hair. Like, hey can I make this crazy looking thing. And from there, people were like, dude can you make a fish, can you make this, can you make a bird. And I was like, well all right. I was already making the fishable birds but, I do these display birds every once in a while too. It was just kind of a challenge, really. What can I make deer hair do that I didn’t think I could do yesterday? And it’s still kind of like that. 

I made a Death Head hawkmoth for my stepfather for his birthday. I did all these crazy realistic legs on it, and just fun stuff. I made this popper for this dude a few years ago, and I carved out Papa Smurf.

Flylords: What’s next for Pat Cohen in 2020?

Pat: Well, I wrote a book. That’s coming out at the end of January, Super Bass Flies. It’s got anglers and fly tyers from all over the place in it. Basically, I put everything that I know about smallmouth and largemouth fishing in this book. I wrote about the water column, the food sources and how those two interact. I wrote about how bass behave, so there’s a lot of biology, there’s a lot of fishing technique. And then there’s 42 step-by-steps of my flies in this book. I think the count was like 108 flies from other fly tyers, representing all those various food sources. It was quite a project. It took almost two years. So that’s coming out like the end of January, and that’s pretty exciting!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Pat Cohen for taking the time to sit down with us and give a glimpse into his ever-creative mind. His latest book will be coming out later this month, but you can pre-order it at the links below!


Barnes & Noble

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When the Stars Align – Giant Kyped Brown Trout

When the Stars Align – Giant Kyped Brown Trout thumbnail

Sometimes the stars align, and sometimes they don’t. Fly fishing is notorious for leaving us with a plethora of “what if’ moments that haunt us when we sleep. “The one that got away,” isn’t just a saying, but a harsh reality that most experience far more often than they would like to admit.

In these periods of fishing hardship, I find myself second-guessing my motives. “Why am I out here?” “Is this really worth it?” It becomes easy to separate the real ones from the weak ones. Subzero temps, frozen guides, and fishless days are what make or break a fly fisherman. This sport is demanding. True grit is required, and without it, dreams stay dreams.

At some point, the opportunity presents itself. The countless hours and numb fingers pay off in one magical moment. The fish of your dreams comes out to play, and everything comes together in perfect harmony. Time itself freezes. Screaming drag, racing heart, 27 inches; kype. The moment when adrenaline sucks the cold from your bones, surroundings fade, and there is nothing in the world but you and that fish.

It’s what we are all after; that shining feeling of success. It drives us day in and day out, cast after cast after cast. The ever-elusive fantasy fish always lurks somewhere in the depths. Maybe today’s the day, maybe next year.

Any true fly fisherman understands that these moments do not happen all the time. They must be earned through dedication, suffering, and unwavering passion. Without putting in the hours, you never know what is truly possible. Your one moment may be waiting just behind the next bend, in the next riffle, or on your next cast.

Next time you find yourself with little motivation, questioning if getting out of bed at 4:00 am is even worth it; the answer is simple. Maybe. Just maybe; but you’ll never know until you’re out there, on the stream, in the moment, with nothing on your mind but the fish of a lifetime. Grind, grind and grind some more because sometimes, the stars align.

Angler and article by Ameen Hosain, check him out on Instagram @thefishboulder. Additional photos from Mark Rauschenberger (@markierausch), who was able to provide Ameen with mental support in landing this epic fish.

Breaking First Water, Dawn Till Dusk Fly Fishing

Artist Spotlight: Anthony Annable

Artist Spotlight: Anthony Annable thumbnail

Flylords: Who is Anthony Annable?

Anthony: I’m a fish artist based in the UK behind @antartoutdoors. The majority of my art consists of freshwater gamefish with also a few saltwater species.

Flylords: What came first the fish or the art?

Anthony: From an early age, fishing was always a big part of my life. It was only until I discovered flyfishing at the age of six I was completely hooked. I started drawing small sketches of trout in my spare time or at school, mainly in the back of my maths books haha.

Flylords: What is your Go-To medium? When did you start working in it?

Anthony: I painted and drew with colored pencils for many years until I transferred over to digital art.

Flylords: Do you have a favorite piece of artwork?

Anthony: Currently, my favorite piece of artwork would be the ”12 Trout Species” or my ”Brown Trout Growth Chart”

Flylords: Favorite catch on a fly rod?

Anthony: My most memorable catch on a fly rod was landing my first Atlantic salmon.

Flylords: Biggest accomplishment as an artist?

Anthony: To date, my biggest achievement as an artist was reaching 10k followers on Instagram as this was a big milestone for me.

Flylords: Any advice for other artists in the fishing space?

Anthony: Some good advice is to always be persistent with your work. Create art which you find motivating, you will go further as an artist making things you enjoy.

Flylords: What’s next?

Anthony: I am very devoted to my work and wish to continue creating more new artwork for my audience and social media. My future goal is to cover a more different verity of fish, freshwater & saltwater.

You can follow along with Anthony on Instagram @antartoutdoors or at https://www.antartoutdoors.com/.

Artist Spotlight: Mandy Hertzfeld

Artist Spotlight: Eric Estrada

Artist Spotlight: Ed Anderson


Bahamas Adventure: Delphi Lodge Spotlight

Bahamas Adventure: Delphi Lodge Spotlight thumbnail

When people say fly fishing trips are all about the adventure of getting to the destination, I’m not sure they factor in flight delays…

Our simple hour-long puddle jumper flight from Fort Lauderdale to Abaco turned into a 24-hour nightmare. Some local rain showers and technical difficulties on the part of Silver Airways made the journey a little longer than expected.

The good news was that the West Palm airport had a putting-green and bar in the terminal….

When we finally made it to Abaco, we were greeted by a large SUV and an even larger smile from Marjorie, a local Bahamian woman driving the shuttle for Delphi. We drove about 30 minutes south of the airport and pulled down a long driveway that felt like we were going on a jungle safari.

Pulling up to the Delphi Club, we were greeted by Max, the charismatic manager, who quickly helped us get our bags into our rooms, simultaneously cracking open a few local Bahamian beers. After my first sip, I could tell this was going to be the first beer of many for the week.

We walked out onto Delphi’s front balcony and were greeted by one of the most spectacular views I had ever seen. Not another person, building, boat in sight, just pure solitude, an endless view of the ocean and a gigantic front porch. Our rooms were upstairs from the dining room and the lodge itself felt like an old school mansion from one of Quentin Tarrantino’s movies.

We plan out our week of fishing that night, and talk about some of the photos / videos we would like to try and capture. We are creating a short film for the lodge, and want to capture what this place is all about.

We spent our first day in the Marls with Robin, one of the many legendary guides that work for Delphi. Robin pulled straight onto one of his favorite flats and we sight fished to tailing bonefish in crystal clear calm water all morning. We even gave Robin the rod for a few casts and he caught the biggest fish of the day!

At night all the lodge guests would gather for cocktail hour on the front porch. Fried zucchini, local conch, and tuna sashimi were served to guests as they chatted about who caught more fish. Appetizers were followed by an insane dinner at the large dining table smack in the middle of the lodge. It was on these nights that I realized this place was about a lot more than just catching fish. It was amazing sitting across from a complete stranger, and having so much in common…

Over our few days at Delphi, we had fantastic fishing, made some new friends, and learned a ton from the knowledgable guides at the Delphi Club. Beers were drunk, laughs were had, and we even found a pod of Tarpon, which was just icing on the cake.

As far as Bahamas trips go, we couldn’t have asked for better accommodations, guided fishing, and overall fishing experience, we would highly recommend this place and are looking forward to the chance of heading back.

Check out the Delphi Club online here or check them out on Instagram @thedelphibonefishclub.

Lodge Spotlight: Thatch Caye Island Resort – Blue Horizon Belize

Rusty Flybox: To Give is Better

Earlier in the week I put out another fly fishing gift guide. Such posts are seasonally relevant and hopefully helpful. But lists can only be so long and still stay readable. Furthermore, including something necessitates excluding something else. So what if none of those gifts tinseled your tree?

Today I’ve gathered up a number of gift-giving articles from the Casting Across archives. Some were put out for Christmas, some were released for other holidays. Some are simply products I think you (or that special somebody) would enjoy. Below are over a dozen links, each containing multiple gift options. Plus, you can read why I think each item is worth giving.

Additionally, if you have a question about the gear listed – or anything else, for that matter – please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally. I’ll gladly answer to the best of my ability.

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Eric Clapton’s Two Record-Setting Icelandic Salmon

Eric Clapton’s Two Record-Setting Icelandic Salmon thumbnail

It turns out Eric Clapton is as good at playing guitar as he is at landing massive Atlantic Salmon. Fly fishing has been a part of the English musician’s life since he learned to fly fish on his home waters, the River Wey in Surrey, England. He has been making an annual summer migration to Iceland since 2000 to chase the big Atlantic Salmon the island nation is known for and, in recent years, set two season records.

Clapton’s record salmon from 2016

Eric’s first record fish, was landed in 2016 and measured 42.5 inches and weighed 28 pounds. His second (top image) occurred the very next season and taped out 41-inches and weighed 25 pounds. Both fish were taken on the Vatnsdalsá River, one of Iceland’s most notorious Atlantic Salmon Rivers. This river is also world-famous for being one of the only fly-fishing only, catch-and-release rivers in Iceland, meaning both of these fish were released moments after these shots were taken.


Clapton has credited fly fishing with aiding 30-year recovery from addiction, saying in his autobiography, Clapton: The Autobiography:

“That first summer of my recovery was one of the most beautiful I can remember, perhaps because I was healthy and clean, and I began to rent some trout-fishing days for myself, mostly on stretches of water in the neighborhood that had been specifically stocked for local fisherman… Fishing is an absorbing pastime and has a Zen quality to it. It’s an ideal pursuit for anyone who wants to think a lot and get things in perspective. It was also a perfect way of getting physically fit again, involving as it does a great deal of walking. I would go out at the crack of dawn and often stay out till nighttime… For once I was actually becoming good at something that had nothing to do with guitar playing or music. For the first time in a long time, I was doing something very normal and fairly mundane, and it was really important to me.”

Eric even made sure that when he was on tour, he was always close to fishing opportunities, often requesting that his manager, Roger Forrester, only book accommodations near to fly fishing areas, often spending hours on the water before gigs.

To read more about Eric’s love of fly fishing, check out this awesome interview done by our friends over at Gink and Gasoline!

Sources: Men’s Journal & The Iceland Monitor

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Fly Fishing Gifts for the New Angler

Fly Fishing Gifts for the New Angler thumbnail

Buying gifts for someone who likes fly fishing can be daunting. What do they have? What do they need? Will they even use something I pick out?

There are some items that will always be useful. Especially when shopping for someone who has just started fly fishing, certain gifts will absolutely make their way onto the water.

I’ve picked out 12 items from 7 companies that I think any angler on your list will enjoy. Most of them are $30 or less. All of them would benefit someone who is new to fly fishing. All of them would be things veteran fly fishers would still buy, use, and enjoy.

Check out these 12 gifts sure to please a new fly fisher… or one who has been doing it for decades:

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Not Going to a Fishing Show? Here’s Why You Should

Not Going to a Fishing Show? Here’s Why You Should thumbnail

Every fall I sit down and take a look at my calendar for the next few months. The holidays feel like such a sprint. Afterwards? The winter actually fills up pretty fast. That is why I always make sure that outdoor expos, fly tying nights, and other events get penciled in ASAP.

Running from January to March, The Fly Fishing Show is always a priority. Because of where I live, I usually make two of the seven stops. Each year I browse, I help out friends in the fly fishing industry, and I start to put together content for Casting Across.

I’m not alone. A lot of people go to this show and shows like it. But I’ve heard plenty of angling acquaintances express reasons why they don’t go to fly fishing shows. Let me be clear – I’m not saying that you’re wrong if you don’t enjoy events like this. Who am I  to tell you what you do or don’t like? But just like anything else, I’ve come across plenty of folks who have formed their negative opinions off partial truths or incorrect assumptions.

With that in mind, here are 5 responses I’ve given to common excuses for not going to fishing expos:

Continue reading “Not Going to a Fishing Show? Here’s Why You Should”

Fall Fishing for Smallmouth Bass [Tips and Techniques]

Fall Fishing for Smallmouth Bass [Tips and Techniques] thumbnail

It’s always a depressing time for me when I discard my flip flops and shorts for wading boots and long johns.  It seems as if there is never a gradual transition period; one day it’s an endless summer filled with poppers and drift boat mojitos only to find frost covering my rowers seat 12 hours later. Sure it can be off-putting however this is one of the best times to fish for monster smallmouth bass. The key to catching big smallmouth this time of year is fishing transition lines in the river bottom.  If you can find these locations, you can increase your chances of catching a stud smallmouth. Below you will find tactics and tips for three types of imitations I used to target smallmouth; baitfish, crawfish, and top water. 

4-6’’ Baitfish Streamer Imitations

As the water temps start to drop into the 60s and 50s, smallmouth bass, as well as all warm water species shift into overdrive for the upcoming winter. They become somewhat reckless as they chase baitfish near the banks and in the shallow flats of river systems. I even start to see them get into feeding groups in an effort to trap baitfish easier. It’s not uncommon on the rivers that I guide on to see multiple bass chasing my flies during the retrieve.

When throwing baitfish streamers I focus on areas with shallow, gravel flats immediately next to a sharp drop off. My retrieve is very aggressive up to the drop off which I will then kill the retrieve and dead drift the fly. If the fly is not eaten in the shallow water, it will get crushed at the drop off. This transition from shallow too deep is critical for smallmouth.  It allows the fish to move quickly from deep to shallow when heavy cold fronts arrive and provides a great ambush line.

Guide Note: I throw almost all of my streamers on sinking or intermediate lines. They help me get my flies to the correct depths quickly and help in providing a more realistic swimming action to weightless streamers as compared to jigging motions of weighted flies. 

Crayfish Imitations 

Over 70% of a smallmouth’s diet consists of crayfish. This is why a crayfish is my go to  pattern year round, especially in the fall. Depending on water clarity, I prefer to throw larger patterns but will size down in low, clear water. I prefer to fish these in deeper holes with little to no current. As well as bottoms that are scattered with large, chunk rock and a mixture of logs seem to produce better. However, it can be very effective to fish in deep riffles so long as you can get the fly down to the bottom.

Unlike a streamer, I do not consider a crayfish search pattern. I think of them as more of a “direct” or “target area” pattern. I fish them to specific rocks and structures that stands out. Often time while guiding clients they typically end up snagged on the bottom. So don’t worry if you are snagging up a lot. And Keep in mind, crayfish are a bottom dwelling creature. They do not like to swim as it makes them vulnerable as prey. To increase your success with crayfish, fish a specific rock or even a specific side of a rock. Once you finish working that targeted area, move to the next. Don’t waste time trying to fish the entire area in one cast.

Guide Note: Fish structure closest to you as the angler. Don’t go for the long cast initially. Often times I find my clients spooking fish 40’ away when they are trying to cast 80’. You can always add distance to your cast, but you cant get back a fish that spooked out.

Topwater Imitations

I do not throw a lot of topwater as fall progresses. However, there are times when a warm snap will occur and it can make or break your day. I let the fish tell me before I tie one on. A key indicator that it is time to throw on a topwater is when I see baitfish blowing up along a shallow flat or against the bank. I typically only throw minnow patterns that are flashy this time of year and I fish them in the exact same areas that I would throw a streamer. I work them very aggressively with little to no pause. This is an area coverage fly just as a streamer. I want to cover as much water and structure as possible in the shortest amount of time. Cast away and be aggressive. 


Article and photos from Wesley Hodges, a longtime fly fishing and bird hunting guide in Blacksburg, Virgina. Check him out on Instagram on online at https://wesleyhodgesflyfishing.com/

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth/Largemouth Bass: Your Complete Guide



Lodge Spotlight: Taylor River Lodge

Lodge Spotlight: Taylor River Lodge thumbnail

Nestled in the pine and aspen lined Taylor River Gorge, Taylor River Lodge by Eleven Angling is home to some of the best trout fishing in Colorado. The Taylor River is a tailwater that drops quickly through the gorge before it joins the East River to form the Gunnison River in Almont, CO. The river is home to trout of unusual size and supports a healthy wild population of fish thanks to the constant cold water outflow from the dam.

The Taylor River Lodge features absolutely gorgeous cabins with all the amenities you could ask for, located right alongside some of the most productive fishing waters around, this experience is not only great for avid anglers but even beginners with little experience on the water. Take a dip in the heated indoor pool.


Or find yourself grabbing a beer and playing a game of pool in between the hatches…


Elevens goal is to take your fishing experience to the “next level” – hence “Eleven” not 10

With a trout pond to help new anglers perfect casting, learn how to handle a fish on the other end of the line, and incredible guides to teach you the ropes, or put you on the best fish, this place is sure to not disappoint. Behind the main lodge, you can treat yourself to over a mile of private and majestic water.

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The stretch of river features enough small water that allows for anglers of all types to get in positions to hook into, and land some gorgeous fish, while also provide some unique ways to spot some of the more elusive fish in the water.  This river doesn’t only house some incredibly beautiful browns, bows, and cutties, but from experience, we can tell you that it is home to some 20+ inch fish as well.

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After a long day on the water, guests can relax in their cabins, enjoy the bar, or hop in the pool or hot tub for some relaxation.

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Firsthand Experience from Flylords Team Member Max Desmarais:

After an amazing IFTD experience in Denver, the Flylords team gathered up our gear and headed west from Denver to experience the lodge and the fabled Taylor River ourselves. Upon arrival, we headed out to the river with our guides and immediately started seeing fish. Trout of all sizes were in abundance and we were fooling them on nymphs, streamers and dry droppers for the majority of the day. 

Towards the end of our fishing day, the sun was getting low, and we all decided to give a small section of the river with a few holes in it a try before making the short walk back to our cabins. It was clear that this piece of water had the potential to hold some really nice fish. A few of the others in our group managed to land some nice bows and one gorgeous cutthroat. As others were calling it a day, it was my turn to give the hole a go. Only expecting to fish it for 5 or 10 minutes, I stubbornly approached a hole, and proceeded to try and attain a perfect drift in a section that just seemed like it had to house the fish we’ve been waiting to see.

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For 20 minutes I tried with no avail and kept inching closer to get just the right drift. Nearing quitting time, I waded just a few inches forward and managed what was a pretty good drift. My dry fly hesitated, I lifted my rod tip and dead weight. Just a few feet in front of me I beheld what must have been a 5+ pound cutthroat that quickly maneuvered back into its hole.

I kept pressure on the fish, and calmly said to our friends on the water, that I just hooked into a really big fish, and I was going to need a bit of help. Knowing I had 5x tippet with fast water on either side of me, it was clear that this fish was going to be hard to land. 

It was the start of a 5 minute + fight that I won’t ever forget. Applying as much pressure as I safely could, I tried to bring the fish in water where we could net it, and we were inches away numerous times.

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About 3 minutes into the fight, something unique happened – a 12-inch rainbow launched itself out of the water, attacking the hopper tied as the top fly on my rig – nearly hooking itself mid-air. I was fortunate this fish missed because I surely would have lost both fish immediately.

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It was time to bring this fish into the shallower water to have a chance to net it. With our guide wading and waiting with his large Fishpond net, the fish begin to push downstream into faster water. I watched our guide dive to net the fish, I felt the fly break off, and I watched in agony as the best fish of my life disappeared.

What was the most disappointing moment of this trip, was also the most incredible. I felt nothing but pure joy for every second of fighting that fish, and despite the pain of losing it, I left the Taylor River Lodge that day with satisfaction, and excitement for the next big fish I hook into. I’ll be back again.

For more information on booking a stay at Taylor River Lodge Visit their website. Or send us an email at: theflylords@gmail.com

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